PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 April, 2004, 12:00am

Q Should the government step up regulation of diving instructors?

It is lamentable that there has been another diving death in Hong Kong. But after every diving accident there are news reports and quotes from dive operators criticising nebulous 'foreign' dive shops that offer cut-rate or even fake certification.

Can the critics name any? Was victim Chan Young Wai-man carrying fake or cut-rate certification?

I notice the dive shops that come in for the most criticism are inevitably in Southeast Asia, typically Thailand and Malaysia.

This seems like an obvious attempt by Hong Kong dive operators to divert criticism from themselves and implicate overseas dive shops that can't defend themselves - because they aren't named and because they aren't in Hong Kong. Oh, and because they weren't actually involved!

If Hong Kong dive operators know of other companies that are cutting corners, they should report them to the dive organisations with which they are affiliated and which have systems for dealing with problem operators. They will be examined, warned, given a chance to reform, then ultimately have their affiliation revoked if they don't.

Any accidents in Hong Kong are the responsibility of the dive operator, sadly shared by the diver and their dive buddy, unless outright negligence caused the accident.

Diving is inherently dangerous, and accidents do happen. But any certified diver knows the first responsibility is to look after yourself, as well as your dive buddy.

Alex McMillan, Causeway Bay

Q Should euthanasia be legal under certain circumstances?

It is meaningless to discuss the legalisation of euthanasia or mercy killing without a widely accepted differentiation between several concepts under its broad meaning.

When we speak of euthanasia, do we refer to lethal injection or withdrawal of life-support by doctors? Do we refer to doctors doing it or patients doing it, assisted by doctors? Do we see it as applicable to dying patients or patients who have no chance of recovery but would nevertheless live on with normal medical care despite never-ending pain and loss of dignity?

Thanks to the advance of medical technology, life-saving techniques have become more and more intrusive and aggressive, so much so that it can keep patients in a critical condition alive. That brings us to the definition of life, and this is where the complexity kicks in.

If you asked people what life was, no one would be able to give you a scientific definition. They would probably tell you that life means love and affection, being needed, dignity, pride and joy and things which are as remote from science as possible.

Is there a double standard to the definition of life? Who has the right to apply it? The government should take this opportunity to start public discussion on the issue.

We have had public consultation on universal suffrage, labour rights, reclamation of the harbour and not every one will cast a vote, have a job or appreciate the beauty of the harbour.

But death is an issue each and every one of us will face sooner or later. Isn't it strange that the most inevitable and intimate issue is given the least attention by government and, until recently, by the public?

Jonathan Man, Lai King

Q What are your ideas to make Stanley more appealing to tourists?

I have two simple ideas to make Stanley more appealing to tourists - one involves doing nothing and the other involves doing very little.

First, decide to do nothing to change the shopping area. Whenever I take my visiting friends to Stanley the main thing they love is shopping in the alleys. Over the years I've noted that the variety of goods on offer has increased and I rarely depart without buying something.

A couple of years ago, there was an ill-advised proposal to tear down the area and replace it with a concrete monstrosity. Thank goodness that idea was scotched. The only action the government ought to take about this area is to protect it. It's the real reason for going to Stanley.

Second, make the waterfront a permanent pedestrian-only area. This would only take a decision by government and would cost virtually nothing. If there is money to spare - and it appears that there's over $80 million available - then repave the area in a sympathetic way.

Taxis could be caught at either end, and deliveries could be made to the back of the restaurants, or by trolley. If this were done, the dining would become truly al-fresco, with tables and chairs out to the waterfront.

Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay

On other matters ...

As the proprietor of a small restaurant in Elgin Street, I wonder if anyone could explain to me how the film industry in Hong Kong is given carte blanche to close whole sections of streets to shoot a scene for their movies.

Not only do they block the footpath, they park vehicles illegally and also have the temerity to stop traffic at will. When asked to unblock the footpath I was told, rather bluntly, to call the police and my attempts at that were met with a 'we are at lunch' recorded messages. I remember not so long ago the film industry went bleating to the community about having to pay off triad gangs to shoot their films. It now seems the sheep have turned into the wolves and their negative input upon other businesses is conveniently brushed aside.

Stuart Brookes, Sheung Wan